The WCC on Monday announced it will adopt a diversity hiring commitment that will require all member institutions to include a minority among the pool of final candidates for every athletic director, senior administrator, head coach and full-time assistant coach within the athletic department. The initiative will be known as the "Russell Rule," named after 11-time NBA champion and two-time NCAA champion Bill Russell, an alumnus of the University of San Francisco.
The measure was backed by WCC commissioner Gloria Nevarez, the first Latino Division I commissioner. It passed unanimously by the league's presidents.
"The Russell Rule is the result of the groundbreaking work of the WCC Presidents' Council and Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee," Nevarez said. "Bill Russell is the greatest basketball player and social justice advocate the nation has seen. He is a champion for change. It is our belief the WCC 'Russell Rule' will live up to his legacy. Our goal is that the diversity of our student-athletes is reflected in those that lead and mentor them and provides a holistic and inclusive education during their time at WCC institutions."
Russell, a social justice advocate, gave his blessing for the rule to be named after him.
"It is my hope the West Coast Conference initiative will encourage other leagues and schools to make similar commitments," Russell said in a statement. "We need to be intentional if we're going to make real change for people of color in leadership positions in college athletics. I'm proud to assist the WCC and Commissioner Nevarez by endorsing this most important initiative."
The league's push to further diversify its hiring practices is named after the league itself, with the first letter of each of the conferences three words -- WCC -- representing the "We Are Committed to Change" initiatives. It also includes antiracism educational webinars, an expansion of the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee, and a civic engagement pledge to devote time to facilitate voter education sessions for student-athletes on an annual basis.
Dr. Richard Lapchick, a human rights activist who founded and directs The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports, will develop an an annual race and gender report card for the WCC on the demographics at each institution as well as the conference's office to ensure it is complying with the new initiatives.